Quarterly Drill on Lake Perris: Dogs and Boats
Every few months we get together as a task force to practice a skill we will need on deployment. The firefighter term for it is “Quarterly Drill.” Over the summer, we met up at Lake Perris for a boat drill. Translated, let’s see how the dogs behave on a boat. Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about Kinsey, she loves the water. My hope was that she’d get time to swim.
I find Quarterly Drills fascinating because they’re outside my normal. First of all, it’s 95% men. While I’m currently working in a middle school and the staff is more balanced in terms of male/female ratio, my first nine years of teaching was in an elementary school and it was 95% women. Not only are they men, but they’re generally in shape, handy with tools and kind. This alone makes for an enjoyable experience. Second, everything requires gear. I show up and first thing I get is a special water helmet, a life vest that expands when I pull a cord and a bright red life vest for Kinsey. This is in addition to my regular gear, which includes steel toed/steel shanked boots, a matching blue outfit, (In the fire department it’s called a uniform, I know that now, but didn’t when I started.), and a backpack with toys for Kinsey.
Even with all of this, my gear is minimal. Some people have first aid kits and whistles and honestly I don’t know what else, but there’s a lot of it and it looks heavy. The truth is I’m not one for extra stuff. I’m always throwing things out or donating to the Goodwill and hiking around with pounds of equipment on my back does not sound fun at all. But, I’m working on it because I know if I ever get deployed I need to be prepared. (Good thing there are a lot of firefighters around to help me out in case I forget something.)
We began the drill with a briefing. (It’s what firefighters call a meeting.) Most of the time I don’t know what they’re talking about. They use acronyms, and a lot of them. I listened and nodded. Then we broke into groups for activities. Of course, I was in the group with the dog handlers. So, we headed over to a designated spot for a boat ride.
The boats were small, the kind used in swift water rescue, and the guys came on the shore to pick us up. Kinsey had never been on a boat before, but she jumped right on and started sniffing around. The entire ride she had her head up and smelled the air. She did take a few breaks to lick the firefighters on the face. They loved it, and told me they were glad they got the good dog. Yep, I said. You did. They took us to a deserted spot and dropped us off. We played with the dogs in the water, and they came back to get us about thirty minutes later.
Now I know that if I’m ever deployed, I won’t have to worry about Kinsey having issues with boats or water. She’ll hop right in, go wherever we need to go and be ready to search.
It proved, once again, that I have the best dog on Earth. Not that I’m prejudiced.